Open Science Research Excellence

Ana Pauna

Publications

2

Publications

2
3305
Expert Witness Testimony in the Battered Woman Syndrome
Authors:
Abstract:
The Expert Witness Testimony in the Battered Woman Syndrome Expert witness testimony (EWT) is a kind of information given by an expert specialized in the field (here in BWS) to the jury in order to help the court better understand the case. EWT does not always work in favor of the battered women. Two main decision-making models are discussed in the paper: the Mathematical model and the Explanation model. In the first model, the jurors calculate ″the importance and strength of each piece of evidence″ whereas in the second model they try to integrate the EWT with the evidence and create a coherent story that would describe the crime. The jury often misunderstands and misjudges battered women for their action (or in this case inaction). They assume that these women are masochists and accept being mistreated for if a man abuses a woman constantly, she should and could divorce him or simply leave at any time. The research in the domain found that indeed, expert witness testimony has a powerful influence on juror’s decisions thus its quality needs to be further explored. One of the important factors that need further studies is a bias called the dispositionist worldview (a belief that what happens to people is of their own doing). This kind of attributional bias represents a tendency to think that a person’s behavior is due to his or her disposition, even when the behavior is clearly attributed to the situation. Hypothesis The hypothesis of this paper is that if a juror has a dispositionist worldview then he or she will blame the rape victim for triggering the assault. The juror would therefore commit the fundamental attribution error and believe that the victim’s disposition caused the rape and not the situation she was in. Methods The subjects in the study were 500 randomly sampled undergraduate students from McGill, Concordia, Université de Montréal and UQAM. Dispositional Worldview was scored on the Dispositionist Worldview Questionnaire. After reading the Rape Scenarios, each student was asked to play the role of a juror and answer a questionnaire consisting of 7 questions about the responsibility, causality and fault of the victim. Results The results confirm the hypothesis which states that if a juror has a dispositionist worldview then he or she will blame the rape victim for triggering the assault. By doing so, the juror commits the fundamental attribution error because he will believe that the victim’s disposition, and not the constraints or opportunities of the situation, caused the rape scenario.
Keywords:
bias, expert/witness testimony, attribution error, jury, rape myth
1
4479
Clinical and Methodological Issues in the Research on the Rape Myth
Abstract:
The purpose of this study is to revisit the concept of rape as represented by professionals in the literature as well as its perception (beliefs and attitudes) in the population at large and to propose methodological improvements to its measurement tool. Rape is a serious crime threatening its victim-s physical and mental health and integrity; and as such is legally prosecuted in all modern societies. The problem is not in accepting or rejecting rape as a criminal act, but rather in the vagueness of its interpretations and “justifications" maintained in the mentality of modern societies - known in the literature as the phenomenon of "rape-myth". The rapemyth can be studied from different perspectives: criminology, sociology, ethics, medicine and psychology. Its investigation requires rigorous scientific objectivity, free of passion (victims of rape are at risk of emotional bias), free of activism (social activists, even if wellintentioned are also biased), free of any pre-emptive assumptions or prejudices. To apply a rigorous scientific procedure, we need a solid, valid and reliable measurement. Rape is a form of heterosexual or homosexual aggression, violently forcing the victim to give-in in the sexual activity of the aggressor against her/his will. Human beings always try to “understand" or find a reason justifying their acts. Psychological literature provides multiple clinical and experimental examples of it; just to mention the famous studies by Milgram on the level of electroshock delivered by the “teacher" towards the “learner" if “scientifically justifiable" or the studies on the behavior of “prisoners" and the “guards" and many other experiments and field observations. Sigmund Freud presented the phenomenon of unconscious justification and called it rationalization. The multiple justifications, rationalizations and repeated opinions about sexual behavior contribute to a myth maintained in the society. What kind of “rationale" our societies apply to “understand" the non-consensual sexual behavior? There are many, just to mention few: • Sex is a ludistic activity for both participants, therefore – even if not consented – it should bring pleasure to both. • Everybody wants sex, but only men are allowed to manifest it openly while women have to pretend the opposite, thus men have to initiate sexual behavior and women would follow. • A person who strongly needs sex is free to manifest it and struggle to get it; the person who doesn-t want it must not reveal her/his sexual attraction and avoid risky situations; otherwise she/he is perceived as a promiscuous seducer. • A person who doesn-t fight against the sexual initiator unconsciously accepts the rape (does it explain why homosexual rapes are reported less frequently than rapes against women?). • Women who are raped deserve it because their wardrobe is very revealing and seducing and they ''willingly'' go to highly risky places (alleys, dark roads, etc.). • Men need to ventilate their sexual energy and if they are deprived of a partner their urge to have sex is difficult to control. • Men are supposed to initiate and insist even by force to have sex (their testosterone makes them both sexual and aggressive). The paper overviews numerous cultural beliefs about masculine versus feminine behavior and their impact on the “rape myth".
Keywords:
Rape Myth components, psycho-social factors, testing, Likert-type scale